Arena, one of the world’s leading competitive swimwear brands, has announced a new sponsorship agreement with 18-year-old Irish freestyle and individual medley swimming sensation, Gráinne Murphy. In a move to strengthen the company’s ties with the Irish swimming movement, Arena’s two-year deal provides technical support to Gráinne through the London Olympics to 2013.
In a country where swimming is a growing but still relatively minor sport, Murphy captured the nation’s attention when she won three gold medals and a bronze at the 2009 European Junior swimming Championships in Prague. Her victories in the 200m and 400m IM set new European Junior championship records to go along with her 800m freestyle gold and 1500m freestyle bronze. Later in the month as a 16 year-old she gained valuable experience at the 2009 World Championships in Rome, and while she didn’t make the finals in any of her events, she broke the Irish national records in 200m IM and 1500m freestyle during her heats. As a result of her exploits, she was named the 2009 Texaco Young Sportstar of the Year.
Gráinne’s tremendous potential and rapid improvement was further revealed in 2010 at three of the year’s premier international events. First she won the 800m freestyle and placed second in the 400m IM at the Paris Open in June. Then, as the youngest member of the small nine-swimmer Irish team at the European Championships in Budapest, she established herself as a serious challenger at the pinnacle of the sport by winning a silver medal in the 1500m freestyle, while also making the finals in the 400m IM and 800m freestyle, missing out on a medal in the latter by a mere 0,05s. She was treated to a hero’s welcome on her return to Dublin. Later in the year she competed at the European Short Course Championships in Eindhoven, where she earned bronze medals in the 400m and 800m freestyle, and made the final of the 400m IM.
Gráinne trains under former Belgian swimmer and coach, Ronald Claes, as part of the High Performance Swim Team based at the University of Limerick’s Arena, home to Ireland’s first Olympic-size 50 metre pool. Together they are plotting a schedule for Gráinne’s continuing progress, with an eye on both the 2011 World Championships in Shanghai, and the 2012 London Olympics.
Arena is also technical sponsor of Swim Ireland, the national governing body for swimming, diving, water polo, synchronized and open water swimming in Ireland. The sponsorship of Gráinne signals the company’s ongoing commitment in supporting the growth of the sport in countries with a developing swimming culture,
as well as those at the top tier of global swimming competition.
“We are delighted to announce the signing of Ireland’s most eminent swimmer,” said Luca Belogi, Arena’s International Business Development Director. “We believe that swimming in Ireland has tremendous potential, and after committing to Swim Ireland a year ago, it was important for us to follow up and continue to help grow its most promising performers. Gráinne’s improvement over the past two years has been impressive, to say the least, and her success at last year’s European Championships was just the beginning of what we believe will be an illustrious career, one that could truly put Irish swimming on the map. For us it would be exciting to be part of that process, and we look forward to providing the support to Gráinne so that she in turn can become a genuine and recognized ambassador for both Swim Ireland and Arena.”
“Arena’s presence and on going commitment to swimming in Ireland is underscored by the sponsorship of Gráinne whom we warmly welcome to the Arena Family, we look forward to being part of the team that will support Gráinne in achieving her dreams” said Debbie Poulson, Director of Solo Sport, the official Arena Distributor in the UK and Ireland. “I am delighted to become a member of the Arena Elite Team” said Gráinne. “It’s a great acknowledgment to get supported by a world leading brand like Arena. They have a wide range of technical equipment with superb fit, ideal for training and racing. The expertise Arena can offer will undoubtedly benefit my swimming. It’s a very exciting opportunity for me to be the Arena ambassador in Ireland. I’m looking forward to working with Arena promoting their array of products in Irish Swimming. It is my hope that this partnership will encourage more people to take up the sport I love”.
“Given Swim Ireland’s ongoing partnership with Arena, they are the obvious choice of swimwear for Gráinne” declared Swim Ireland. “Having this technical support in place for Gráinne is a great advantage to her and is of huge importance in her preparations for ongoing international competition”.